What is Gaming Addiction and Do I Have It?

When people think of a gaming addict they’d usually envision a young male teen, desperately clutching to their game console, as his parents proceed to drag him away to sounds of much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly provide an overview of what gaming addiction is. A question we often get asked is how do we differentiate between a person highly involved in gaming and a person experiencing a video game addiction?

Perhaps you have become personally concerned of late over your increasing willingness to stay up late at night to game, culminating in you being unable to function effectively the next day. You may have noticed your significant other becoming defensive when you voice your concern over the amount of time they spend gaming, resulting in several arguments. If this sounds like you, you are not alone, many people report experiencing some of these difficulties.

What is Gaming Addiction?

The World Health Organization defines gaming disorder as:

a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

While an overwhelming majority of gamers don’t experience gaming disorder, they estimate that around 3 – 4% of gamers are addicted to gaming. Here are some of the warning signs and symptoms to watch out for that could give you some clarity on your own gaming on someone else that you care deeply about.

The Warning Signs:

Please note that although these can prove helpful to better understand the severity of your own situation, it’s important to always seek the advice of a professional.

1) Preoccupation with games. This refers not only the amount of time spent, but also a mental preoccupation in the form of reflecting on past or future gaming experiences.

2) Withdrawal Symptoms. Usually occurs when taken away; Includes irritability, anxiety or sadness.

3) Tolerance. A need to spend increasing amount of time gaming to elicit the same level of satisfaction. Gamers who exhibit high levels of tolerance may even report less satisfaction or feelings of engagement with the game.

4) Unsuccessful attempts to control or reduce participation in gaming. They increasingly spend more time gaming than they initially planned to or game when they didn’t intend to.

5) Loss of interest in other activities. Individuals may cease engaging in other types of hobbies and even responsibilities.

6) Continued excessive use despite awareness of psychosocial problems. Among adolescents, they may drop out of school, break up with their girlfriend or boyfriend, and neglect basic hygiene. Among adults, they may lose a job, experience arguments with their significant other, lose a relationship or their marriage.

7) Deception. Typically, of family members, clinicians, or others about amount of time spent gaming).

8) Use of gaming as an escape to relieve a negative mood (e.g., anxiety, helplessness and guilt).

9) Jeopardising or losing a job, career/educational opportunities or social relationships due to participation. If you meet five (or more) of the following warning signs in a 12-month period, you may be at risk of an addiction and should seek the help of a professional immediately.

I think I have gaming addiction, what can I do about it?

Our psychologists can guide you on how to better reclaim control of your life, to reduce your sense of dependence and isolation and to make choices that are right for you and the lifestyle you wish to lead. Give us a call today to find out more information.